Monday, October 29, 2012
Nearly 20 percent of the state’s population, Ohio’s 2.2 million Catholics will play a significant if not decisive role in the 2012 election. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese is the largest in the state, representing over 800,000 Catholics, and includes the Democratic stronghold of Cuyahoga County.
This weekend Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland reissued a statement he first released before the 2008 presidential election in an attempt to clarify the moral obligations of Catholics in the voting booth. The move comes in response to complaints filed with the bishop’s office regarding diocesan-wide “Faithful Citizenship” programs, meetings held at parishes ostensibly to help Catholic voters form their consciences properly in preparation for November’s election.
I'm guessing Catholic turnout in Ohio will be high. Simplifying somewhat, my interpretation of what I heard this last Sunday in the homily was, if I don't vote against Obama, you will probably go to hell. I was taken aback by the, uh, directness of the sermon. I had already made up my mind how to vote, so it had little effect on me, but still. In fifty some years of going to Mass (admittedly, off and on) I have never heard a message from the pulpit that was so forceful and direct. And in spite of how this probably sounds, also articulate and dignified. But still, bottom line, fire, devils, brimstone, etc., are implicit in the whole eternal damnation proposition, or equally nasty spiritual equivalents thereof. And, at the end of the homily, spontaneous applause, a lot. I have never heard that at the end of a sermon, ever. (We Catholics as a rule are not very demonstrative in church.) Ours is a middle class (i.e. mostly working class) parish in a most unfashionable quadrant of San Diego, majority non-white. Not in Brookline or Georgetown, but in many, many parishes, I bet something similar was said last Sunday, very much including Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia and so on. I have never seen so many Catholics so pissed off about anything in my entire life. I'm telling you, it was a jaw dropper. Who knows; maybe it will make a difference in some swing states. I also wonder how to say "stuff your free birth control" in Latin. --TS